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Poster: Chung Date: May 28, 2004 8:06am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Legality Question

The sidebar under the "Rights" heading on the Prelinger Archive page (http://www.archive.org/movies/prelinger.php) states that "You may not sell or sell access to the datafiles representing the films... You may not sell, represent, license, or charge for access to these films as stock footage."

However, on eBay there are many VCD's and DVD's featuring footage from the Prelinger collection (such as the video "Duck and Cover"). Granted, these videos are in the public domain, but some of them could have been downloaded from www.archive.org. Is there any way to tell if these video discs are in violation of the terms of use? The same sidebar on the Prelinger collection page states that "Any derivative works that you produce using these films are yours to perform, publish, reproduce, sell, or distribute in any way you wish without any limitations." Does burning the video file to a DVD or VCD count as creating a derivative work?

Personally, I think that it's a great way to expose these "lost videos" to people who have slower connections or to people who do not own a DVD or CD burner and still want a back-up copy. I would like to do my part to help the effort in sharing these videos in VCD or DVD format through eBay or other sources, but I was just curious about the legality of it.

This post was modified by Chung on 2004-05-28 15:06:49

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Poster: Toomy Date: Jun 1, 2004 3:45am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

I'd like to extend this discussion about public domain, and specifically Rick's displeasure with those who compile films onto a DVD and slap copyright notices on them. As I understand it, a new copyright may only be claimed if substantial changes to the original work are made--e.g. colorizing a film, or adding a new music track or even adding new "fake" dialogue.another example would be what the guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000 did with old films, including some that were in the public domain. The versions of the films with their funny insults could be copyrighted. There are companies today sell public domain movies on DVD that have copyright notices on the box, but not on the DVD. I have been told that the copyright notice is for the box's artwork, not the film that has been burned onto the DVD. Anyone know if any of what I have just written is true or not?

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Poster: Gillgrappler Date: Jun 3, 2004 12:27pm
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

Toomy,

You hit the nail on the head with your statement about copyright on package artwork.
A good example of this is the "Alpha Video" company.
They market an entire line of public domain movies.
They do not claim any copyright on the films, but they have copyrighted all of the packaging artwork. They have done such a beautiful job with their artwork, that they are now marketing poster sized versions on heavy cardstock.
Check out the artwork at www.oldies.com
A good example of finding a niche in the market.

I have to admit I have purchased a couple of their products for the artwork as much as the movie!

Gillgrappler (< :

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Poster: summerseve Date: May 29, 2004 7:14am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

Nice that you want to "do your part" by "sharing" the films on eBay. I suppose your listings will indicate that they are also available here for free?

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Poster: Chung Date: May 29, 2004 9:13am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

Yeah - that's a good point. It's not really that big of a deal - it was just a half-hearted idea that I was tossing around. Mainly, I was just curious about the copyright aspect of it. Some of the compilations of films on VCD or DVD on eBay (such as the Teen Dating, Sex Ed, and Drivers Ed ones for example) are very similar to the films in this collection. Have these films had previous wide exposure, or are they unique to the Prelinger archives?

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffRick Prelinger Date: May 29, 2004 10:11am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

Trafalgar, you read my mind. Without formally declaring myself on the bigger question, I will admit I wish that people selling copies of downloaded films on eBay indicated that they were available for free online and didn't insinuate the films came from their own archives. Attribution is very inexpensive and makes people into better friends.

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Poster: Chung Date: May 29, 2004 2:12pm
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

It's defintely easy to turn to the dark side and see profit opportunities when first looking at any vast repository of public domain films. However, that is obviously not the best course of action, and I'm definitely glad that I've resisted the temptation of viewing "public domain" as "free to use as a means of turning a profit."

Thank you for bearing with me while I played devil's advocate (and helping me to "see the light" so to speak, rather than risk infringing upon this site's terms of use) and also for helping me to understand some of the nuances of electronic copyright law.

Any terms of use agreement or other form of legalese can be kind of a thorny subject, and matters relating to copyright and fair use make up a Gordian knot that is particularly difficult to disentangle. I've read many discussions on Slashdot about copyright on the internet, and I'm currently reading the book "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig, but the wild world of Internet law is still a complicated place.

This post was modified by Chung on 2004-05-29 21:12:21

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or Staffakb Date: May 29, 2004 11:48am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

I'm definitely glad that I've resisted the temptation of viewing "public domain" as "free to use as a means of turning a profit."

Why? Anyone may profit from the public domain, why should you not? Bible salesman make good money, just as Mel Gibson is from "Passion of the Christ". That both do is good for our society.

For the works in the Prelinger collection to be both "public domain" and under a license of any kind is a contradiction. I think you're right to be confused.

This post was modified by akb on 2004-05-29 18:48:30

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or Staffakb Date: May 29, 2004 11:23am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

I have to say, I'm pretty confused by the qualified public domain license that works in this collections are under. Public domain has a pretty specific, well understood legal meaning. Why use that term if in fact you are claiming a copyright with which you assert this license? Why remain coy on the subject as you are being now?

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffRick Prelinger Date: May 30, 2004 11:07am
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

We're not asserting copyright on any of the Prelinger films we've put online, although a few of them are under copyrights that we own. The reason for the specific restrictions that akb cites...well, it's a bit complicated, but here goes.

Prelinger Archives is represented for stock footage sales exclusively by Getty Images (their Archive Films division). This arrangement covers the costs of maintaining the archive and supports the Prelingers, at least to some degree. Under our contract, I'm allowed to license complete films but not sell stock footage or allow others to sell material in a way that might compete with Getty. What I've done, therefore, is write these restrictions into the public license governing the use of footage people obtain online. For better or for worse, and all that.

The real issue runs somewhat deeper than the terms of any restrictions or licenses. We need to make it possible for creators and content custodians to be actors in both the conventional market economy and the gift economy. In other ways, we need to create and sustain opportunities both to sell content and to give it away. This is what we're trying to do here, and I fully realize that there are points of friction and contradiction between the two courses, but so far, it's kind of working. Archives need ways of recovering their expenses and supporting themselves, just as artists, writers and musicians do.

btw, thanks to akb for his/her kindness in passing on information about "Panorama Ephemera" to other sites.

This post was modified by Rick Prelinger on 2004-05-30 18:07:40

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or Staffakb Date: May 31, 2004 2:10pm
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

Thanks for the thoughtful response Rick. I understand the intent, I'm glad that your gift is working out for you in addition to what its given for all the people that now have access to it. I'm also very appreciative of how much it has inspired others to contribute to this archive.

Maybe I'm getting hung up on the technicalities here. But since you said that you aren't claiming copyright, how can a license be asserted?

Overall on the subject of supporting archives, I would have to say I don't hold much hope for business models. Those situations that can take advantage of such a model are likely to be small and strategic given costs and attitudes about using information scarcity for competitive advantage. Much as I would like your gift to inspire Discovery and any well off documentarians to dedicate part of their profits to putting, say, the Universal Newsreel collection on this website, I'm not hopeful.

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffRick Prelinger Date: May 31, 2004 3:22pm
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

When Getty Images charges users for access to public domain images and sounds from our collection, they are in essence charging simply for access to privately-held copies of public domain films (I'm obviously not speaking about copyrighted material). Although a Getty attorney might look at this differently, I don't believe they are issuing formal copyright licenses, since it isn't copyrighted material. In other words, it's a case where contracts govern the release and reuse of material.

I'm obliged to work within the terms of my agreement with Getty in order to earn income from the archives, which is why I pass on certain restrictions. At the same time, we've found a way to work with the Internet Archive and supply people with films and footage for free. This also happens to point people in Getty's direction, and they like the additional business.

Naturally, I don't know whether people who download footage from the site actually comply with the restrictions on the license. I do know that a good many people are selling dvds, vcds and vhs tapes on eBay. My beef with them is that they often represent that the footage comes from their own collections, slap ridiculous copyright notices and threatening language on their products, and always fail to attribute us as a source.



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Poster: Chung Date: May 29, 2004 12:23pm
Forum: prelinger Subject: Re: Legality Question

It might be important to reference this thread for the purposes of this discussion:

http://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=10295

Does this mean that it is acceptable to create and sell VCD's or DVD's of footage from this site as long as relevant links are given to www.archive.org and http://www.prelinger.com/prelarch.html ?

It seems like this approach would be much more in the spirit of the public domain, instead of the actions of eBay sellers that don't properly attribute the sources of much of their footage. In addition, it stands a chance of increasing the visibility of the Prelinger collection, as well as bringing a much-needed sense of ethics to the sale of derivative works based on public domain material.

I do not want to be confrontational or rude at all - I'm just curious about issues relating to public domain and fair use. I sincerely thank all of you for all of the consideration and help that you have given me so far in regard to my questions.

This post was modified by Chung on 2004-05-29 19:23:04

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